We’re nearing the end of the #My30DayWorld challenge, and though we’re several days behind we are still going to finish. Today’s post is about wealth, currency, and things of value. Æsc and I booth wrote up small snippets to show what things others than gold are considered valuable.
The Legacy of Ash began as a role-playing setting for us, slowly evolving into fantasy fiction as the characters and cultures we created began to take on lives of their own. We hope you’ll follow us over the next few weeks as we reveal a little more about our world and the characters who bring it to life.
This post will cover day 23. We’re doing them all on our Legacy of Ash Facebook page as well, so head over and give us like.
4/11: What’s valuable in Your World? Gold? Something else?
Gold is almost always valuable in Celduras. From the smoke filled gariun dens of Mgen Riy to the masked markets of Tyrant, from the twisted alleys of Kilaon to the fog covered streets of Serpentine. Across every continent, coins are generally used as the primary currency. The coins (gold, silver, iron, etc) are stamped by their country of origin.
Across most of Alrend’ris, the most valuable coin is called a ‘blade’. Next, a coin called a ‘brand’, and then a ‘grim’. Lastly, a coin called a ‘flint’. These are the four most standard units in Alrend’ris.
Of course, there are societies that do not recognize the standard system, cultures that prefer other systems of trade. The kinasahr of the Heramear value trophies and tokens won through combat. The kinasahr do not sell or buy goods and services from each other. A rough barter system is in place between the separate tribes, but within any one tribe the people simply provide for each other. Skilled craftsmen and artisans, the kinasahr also value small carvings and fetishes. Carved from either stone or bone, these fetishes are treasured more than the gold and coins from other cultures, passed down from generation to generation, given as gifts, or won in combat.
Bodies littered the ground around the small caravan. Sand crawled over severed limbs, blood soaking down into the ground. Above, clouds came in fast, a sandstorm approaching as one dozen kinasahr took what they wanted, the goods carried by the travellers now belonging to the tribe of the Hollow Tusk. The warriors were tall and heavily muscled, their skin ranging in colour from dark, mossy green to deep, earthen ochre. Some wore scale armour while others were draped in roughly made furs and animal hides. While some of the warriors bore wounds from the recent battle, none had fallen to the caravan guards. For that, Hunts-With-Pride was pleased.
“Victory is ours!” Shadow-Through-The-Reeds said, approaching the war chief with a smile on her tusked face. The kinasahr woman bore several small cuts across her flesh, her own blood mixing with that of their fallen enemies. “Another band of Miriai cowards, crossing our lands without leaving a proper offering. The ancestors watch. Their cravings appeased.”
“It was a good battle,” Hunts-With-Pride said, eyes fixed on the corpses of the fallen guards. “Well worth the days it took to track them.”
“You were right to push us so hard. To tell the truth, I began to wonder at your focus on this hunt. I’ve not seen you so dedicated to finding one specific caravan before.”
Hunts-With-Pride gave a small chuckle, muscle rolling beneath his skin. Wading through the wreckage of the wagons and the bodies of the guards, he pulled a fallen Miriai gladius from the ground. With a sneer he looked over the hilt and blade, casting it aside a moment later. Shadow-Through-The-Reeds followed her war chief, grabbing a bottle a wine from the hands of another kinasahr warrior and taking a long drink.
The warriors following the war chief were dividing the spoils. Small fights erupted between them as they fought over their claims, though much that the Miriai settlers valued was of little worth to the kinasahr. Chests of coins were looked over in favour of weapons. The coins would be taken, of course. Everything that belonged to the Miriai now belonged to Hunts-With-Pride and the Hollow Tusk, and the metal could oalways be melted down into something useful.
“What are you looking for?” Shadow-Through-The-Reeds asked, finishing the wine.
“Quiet,” Hunts-With-Pride growled as he poked through the wreckage.
After a few moments, the war chief dragged the body of one of the caravan guards out from the debris. A smile spreading across his blood-covered face, he pulled a small leather pouch from around the guard’s neck. Snapping the leather thong, Hunts-With-Pride opened the small pouch and emptied one lone fetish onto his scarred palm.
“You were looking for this caravan,” Shadow-Through-The-Reeds said, realizing the truth. “You were hunting this guard specifically? Why?”
“For this,” the war chief said, holding up the solitary carving.
Shadow-Through-The-Reeds stared at it. Even covered in blood, so recently engaged in the the brutality of combat, she could not ignore the artistry of the item. Carved from an antler, it was made to resemble a tiger. Small, delicate eyes of turquoise had been set within its face. Through the skill of its creator, the beast looked as if mere moments from the kill.
“It is stunning,” Shadow-Through-The-Reeds said.
Hunts-With-Pride smiled as he tucked the tiger back into the leather pouch. Looking up, he stared at the approaching sandstorm.
“It was taken from a scouting party in the spring,” the war chief explained. “It has taken me a long time to retrieve, but it is of our people, and belongs with us. The Miriai take and take. The Intur push against our borders. Our youth leave our lands, choosing to sell our culture for passage aboard ships and wagons. But no more will I suffer this outrage. Tonight we feast, tonight we celebrate and revel in our victory. But for me, this victory is far more personal.”
(this part is by Æsc Adams)
Items of value can take many forms.
The Pits of Amnamon are a relatively new discovery – a battlefield where, in the distant past, demons strove against unknown foes.
The region is a bog, pocked with craters of ooze. Here slaves mine the tarry remains of fallen, inhuman creatures, and seek to salvage remnants of demonic weaponry and armor.
The blackish sludge is harvested – dried in the sun, the resulting resin is rolled into sheets or cut into cubes. The resin is chewed slowly over hours, a highly addictive drug commonly known as Curse.
Slaves die screaming in their chains after lengthy exposure to the ooze, and are quickly replaced. For Curse is rare, and slaves are plentiful.
Several groups vie to control these pits, and the resulting wealth they generate.
Arms stained black to the shoulder, Sarmoh hauled another basketful of muck onto the bank. He worked the basket back and forth over the wooden trough, sludge pouring through gaps between the withies.
“Dig deep, you miserable curs.” Tisias paced up and down the line. His switch cracked across the back of the new boy, a frail little blond thing from the Scorpion League. The boy bit back a cry, but his eyes glimmered with tears.
“He won’t see mid-week,” Usk muttered. Sarmoh wiped sweat from his brow, risking a glance down the line.
Pale and shaking, the new boy had dropped his basket and was trying to wipe the tarry ooze from his hands.
Caught his first taste of the Curse, and it seemed he didn’t much care for it.
They worked in silence, a dozen men, women and children, all crouched upon the bank of a tarry black pit. As the morning mist lifted, Sarmoh saw figures clustered around countless other pools. No stranger to chains, at first the strained silence rubbed him wrong. Always before, on road gangs and in the mines, there had been songs. Songs of hardship, of failing bodies and broken spirits. Of death and freedom. Redemption and rebellion. Of fucking in the bunkhouses.
Here at the Pits there were no songs. He had come to understand. Your voice was one of the first things stolen by the Curse.
Nothing to say anyway. Every day the same as the last.
Sarmoh swept his fingers along the bottom of his basket, hoping for a fragment, a sting of metal. All that remained of the armour and weapons lost in this ancient battlefield. And the tarry sludge, tainted with nightmares, all that remained of the demons that had borne them.
Ansrelan, Sarmoh had heard them called, in the far south. In t’Avallin sages knew the things as Sûlrach. But here at the Pits, the befouled cysts that were their remains were simply known as Rack.
The sludge from Usk’s basket flowed past in the trough. With a grunt, Sarmoh hauled up another load and tipped his basket as well. Giving a quick glance to see that Tisias had his back turned, Usk peeled a crust of tar from the trough’s edge. She popped the wad into her mouth, working it down along gums stained dark as her teeth.
Up the line, the boy was crying now, wiping tears and snot on his arms without pausing. Without letting go of the basket.
He’s learning. Just not fast enough. With every movement, Sarmoh’s chains clattered on the edge of the trough. Heaving the basket up, tipping it over, sweeping it with his hand. The Pits take the weak. The sludge drains away.
Usk moved in silence, as she no longer wore chains. She had earned her freedom months ago. It was just another thing stolen by the Curse.
Need endures, long after want has faded.
The Challenge Will Continue…
Thanks for reading about the world Æsc and I have built. We’ve fallen a bit behind in the questions, but we will answer them all and we’ll post more about the Legacy of Ash and the continents that make up the world of Celduras. This has been day 23, but look out for our next set of questions.